Foun­da­tion looks to spread hope through gifts

Walk the Walk ex­pects to help about 400 fam­i­lies

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Megan Brock­ett

Kim and David Mitchell stood in a mostly empty Glen Burnie ware­house, know­ing that next month there would hardly be enough room to walk.

In the days ahead, boxes full of Christ­mas gifts for needy fam­i­lies will cover about 8,000 square feet of the space.

The ware­house acts as the sea­sonal home of the Mitchells’ Walk the Walk Foun­da­tion, which pro­vides fam­i­lies, mostly in Anne Arun­del County, with presents to put un­der the tree.

The foun­da­tion is on track this year to help about 400 fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing more than 1,000 chil­dren, the Mitchells said.

At its core, Kim Mitchell said, the work is about giv­ing hope.

“The story that the world puts out is the story of Santa Claus — if you’re not good, you don’t get gifts,” she said. “And to me, that’s not hope. ... The rea­son why Christ­mas hap­pened was to bring hope into the world.”

The Sev­erna Park res­i­dents formed the non­profit foun­da­tion in 2005. It sprang from a per­sonal loss. Kim Mitchell was half­way through a preg­nancy in the late 1990s when she went to a rou­tine doc­tor’s ap­point­ment in De­cem­ber and was told her baby had no heart­beat.

A few years later, as Christ­mas ap­proached, she found her­self want­ing to buy Christ­mas gifts for a boy who would have been her son’s age.

So Mitchell called her aunt, then the prin­ci­pal of a school in West Vir­ginia, and was paired with fam­i­lies there with chil­dren who were the right age.

“I was find­ing fam­i­lies that re­ally needed the help,” Mitchell said.

Friends be­gan ask­ing Mitchell if she would con­nect them with fam­i­lies in need at the school, and soon the Mitchells had matched 60 fam­i­lies in need with peo­ple want­ing to do­nate gifts.

The Walk the Walk Foun­da­tion was formed a year later.

To­day, the foun­da­tion works with the county and a hand­ful of other or­ga­ni­za­tions to com­pile a list of lo­cal fam­i­lies in need.

The Mitchells and a team of vol­un­teers call each of the fam­i­lies on the list and find out cloth­ing sizes, what the fam­i­lies need and what the chil­dren would like for Christ­mas.

Each fam­ily is then paired with a spon­sor, mostly through lo­cal churches, who help with the fam­ily’s Christ­mas list. Do­na­tions from three county Toys “R” Us/Ba­bies “R” Us stores help sup­ple­ment some of gifts do­nated by in­di­vid­u­als, the Mitchells said.

St. John Prop­er­ties do­nates the ware­house space where the Mitchells keep the do­na­tions.

Last year, spon­sors do­nated more than 200 bi­cy­cles for fam­i­lies through the Walk the Walk Foun­da­tion, Kim Mitchell said.

“My fa­vorite part about it is ... see­ing the kids ... be­ing helped out with some of the ba­sics that they need,” David Mitchell said. “Whether it’s Christ­mas gifts or school sup­plies or ... di­a­pers and clothes.”

The Mitchells also use the Walk the Walk Foun­da­tion to teach their four chil­dren about the re­spon­si­bil­ity of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity.

And to Kim Mitchell, it’s still about giv­ing more than just gifts.

“This is just my lit­tle way of shar­ing hope,” she said.

Those in­ter­ested in spon­sor­ing a fam­ily or do­nat­ing to the foun­da­tion can email walk@wtwf.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

PAUL W. GILLE­SPIE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Kim and David Mitchell started the Walk the Walk Foun­da­tion in 2005. “The rea­son why Christ­mas hap­pened was to bring hope into the world,” Kim Mitchell said.

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